She stomped and stewed all the way to the bus stop. And shed a few tears too, no doubt. She was frustrated, which made my littlest fireball madder than a hornet. She can’t stand it when life doesn’t go her way. And this particular morning, much to her devastation, she couldn’t find A THING to wear.
Yep. Her’s was a fashion-fueled anger. She may be only fifty pounds and nine years old, but she can get herself in quite a tizzy when she feels her wardrobe choices aren’t satisfactory.
I let her walk a good half block ahead of me, didn’t make any attempt to catch up or slow her down. She needed to cool off, and I needed to think. I knew her frustration wasn’t really about fashion.
It never is.
Her external anger was nothing more than a hint at her internal insecurity.
She wants to be beautiful, to fit in, be “popular.” In her nine-year-old mind, fashion could make that happen. Thus I witnessed all the fall out from her crushed sense of self-worth.
Less than a minute later, she arrived at the corner and I quickly joined her. Then I turned to my fireball and took her flushed face in my hands.
Sweet girl, you are BEAUTIFUL. Just beautiful. And it’s not because of your outfit or how you did your hair. Being beautiful is in here.
I laid my hand on her chest.
It’s more about who you are and what you believe when you can’t find something to wear, okay? And God says you’re beautiful. Just as you are. Because you’re His. What you wear doesn’t change that, ever.
She stared at me, struggling to believe it.
I couldn’t blame her. I struggle to believe it, too.
It’s much easier to believe that beauty is achieved and worth is earned.
You buy the right wardrobe, shed the right pounds, exercise extra hard and then you’re rewarded. With love and affection, acceptance and attention. But it never quite works out as easily as all that. Most times it proves fickle and unpredictable. Because the outfit I loved so much last month loses its luster the next. And the person who seemed impressed by my appearance last week is less than enamored this one.
The standard for beauty never stays the same. Besides, age increases, clothes wear out, talents dim, and beauty fades for every single one of us eventually.
No, the work-based formula for measuring beauty doesn’t hold up.
So what are we to do? How do we find a beauty that doesn’t leave us stomping and stewing all the way to the bus stop?
We need a new measure. A standard that doesn’t change and doesn’t begin and end with us:
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you. —Isaiah 43:1-4
Precious and honored.
Thousands of years ago those words were said by the God who chose you.
So what is beautiful?
Real beauty isn’t a manipulated attractiveness, but an inward confidence. It can’t be found in the bathroom mirror, bought in the shopping mall, or achieved on the running track. Instead, beauty is a quiet and unshakable disposition of knowing you are eternally loved. It flourishes in the quiet unseen moments when a man or woman basks in the undying affection and presence of our God. It’s irresistible, that kind of confidence.
Simple, yes. But not easy. It’s going to take us spending less time in the mirror and mall and gym, and more time Bible open and knees on the floor.
But I need this. And my girl needs this. Much more than we need a new outfit.
How about you?
Here’s my challenge. This week spend as much time gazing at your reflection in God’s eyes as you do looking in your mirror. I mean it. Time yourself. And to make it easier, here’s a suggested reading plan to help you get started:
- WEDNESDAY: Read Psalm 139. Ask God to help you see yourself as “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
- THURSDAY: Read Lamentations 3:19-24. Rest in the truth that God’s affection for you is secure, no matter what may or may not come.
- FRIDAY: Read Exodus 14:13-14. What a relief! Our God fights for us!
- SATURDAY: Read Joshua 1:7-9. There is no place so dark that God’s presence can’t bring light. He is with you. Because He loves you.
- SUNDAY: Read Jeremiah 31:3. Some love doesn’t last. But when God says “I love you,” he means forever.
- MONDAY: Read John 15:16. Did you know that Jesus chose you? He sees you, knows you by name, and chose you as his friend.
- TUESDAY: Read Isaiah 43 again. Pray for the grace to KNOW and BELIEVE that you are “precious and honored” in God’s eyes.
[callout]Have you preordered my new book I Am: A 60-day Journey To Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is? If not, don’t wait. If you order BEFORE January 24th, you can get a bunch of free bonuses INCLUDING a download of 60 I Am Scripture Cards just like the reading plan above! It’s a great first step toward an identity built on what really matters. Join me. We’re in this together. —mc [/callout]
[reminder]Are you in? Are you ready to commit to ONE WEEK of looking to God for your significance? If so, simply write the words ‘I’m IN!’ in the comments. So crazy proud of you.[/reminder]
[Image Copyright: evgenyatamanenko / 123RF Stock Photo]